Craig Leipold announced Thursday that he has signed a letter of intent to sell the Nashville Predators and Powers Management (the company that manages the Sommet Center) to Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO of Research in Motion.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Mr. Balsillie has until June 30, 2007 to conduct due diligence on the franchise and complete the transaction. The sale must be approved by the National Hockey League's Board of Governors.
Leipold has owned the Predators since the expansion franchise was conditionally awarded June 25, 1997. The Predators began play as the NHL's 27th franchise on October 10, 1998.
"Owning the Predators - and starting this franchise from scratch - has been the thrill of a lifetime," Leipold said. "After much thought and exhausting all efforts to attract more local business support and local ownership, I've made the decision to sell to Jim. I know Jim shares my passion for the game and will be committed to bringing this franchise a Stanley Cup. I want to personally thank each and every one of our loyal core of fans and sponsors who have been with us every step of the way from our debut on October 10, 1998 to Game 5 of this year's playoffs. My only regret is that we have not yet celebrated a Stanley Cup. My thanks also to all Predators players and staff who worked so hard to make the team a success on and off the ice. I will always be a huge fan of the Predators and Nashville."
"Hockey has been a lifelong passion for me and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to purchase the Nashville Predators franchise," Balsillie said. "Craig and his organization have built a tremendous team and I look forward to continuing the pursuit of a Stanley Cup.
"Having been through a sale process previously, I am respectful of and aware of the due diligence required and Board of Governors approval before this deal can close. This is still Craig Leipold's franchise until the deal is completed, so for me to comment at this time on any number of topics relative to the franchise would not be appropriate. Upon completion of the deal and Board of Governors approval, I will be anxious to get to Nashville and be in a position to talk to Predators fans and become more familiar with the community."
Mr. Leipold and Mr. Balsillie do not plan to comment again on the franchise sale until the transaction is completed and is approved by the NHL's Board of Governors.